|Miscellaneous Info||Home Page|
|A comprehensive list of abbreviations for different organizations and societies.|
|A comprehensive list of abbreviations for the various species of parrots.|
|Written by Joanie Doss:
This article first appeared in the November/December 1992 issue of Parrot World, the publication of the National Parrot Association.
|Buying and Selling Un-weaned Birds||An well written article detailing the dangers and reasons why people should not buy or sell un-weaned parrots.|
|An interesting and informative article.|
|Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Congo, and Angola Greys||Myth & Truth|
|Many people allow their parrots to shoulder-sit. It is recommended only for the experienced parrot person and some experts say do not allow it. I believe it is one of the truly great bonds that can be attained with caution and experience.|
|Temperament, behavior and attitude of African Grey Parrots||An excellent article by Bobbi Brinker. Although primarily written for Greys the information applies to all parrots.|
|I have seen so many new parrot owners ask questions about talking I wrote an article to share my experience with our flock.|
Abbreviations - Organizations
AFA - American Federation of Aviculture
APC - Association for Parrot Conservation
CITES - Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species
EIA - Environmental Investigation Agency (AR)
ESA or USESA - United States Endangered Species Act
FWS - Fish and Wildlife (often a State agency)
HSUS - Humane Society of the United States (AW)
ICP - Interstate Commerce Permit (under the ESA)
MBA - U.S Migratory Bird Act
OMA - Office of Management Authority (under the USFWS)
OSA - Office of the Scientific Authority (under the USFWS)
USDA - U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
USFWS - United States Fish and Wildlife Service
WBCA - Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992
Abbreviations - Parrot Species
|B&G - Blue and Gold Macaw||BC - Blue Crown Conure|
|BCMA - Blue Crown Mealy Amazon|
|BE2 - Bare Eyed Cockatoo||BFA - Blue Front Amazon|
|BP2 - Black Palm Cockatoo||BP2 - Black Palm Cockatoo|
|BSL - Blue Streak Lorry||C2 - Citron Cockatoo|
|BTC - Brown Throated Conure||BTM - Blue Throated Macaw|
|CAG - Congo African Grey||CM - Catalina Macaw|
|DYH - Double Yellow Head Amazon||E2 - Eleanora Cockatoo|
|EFP - Edward's Fig Parrot|
|G2 - Goffins Cockatoo||GC - Green Cheeked Conure|
|GCC - Gold Capped Conure||GCP - Grey Cheeked Parakeet|
|GE - Grand Eclectus||GSC - Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo|
|GSC2 - Greater Sulpher-Crested Too||GW - Green Wing Macaw|
|HH - Hawkheaded Parrot||HM - Hahns Macaw|
|HMC - Half Moon Conure||HYM - Hyacinth Macaw|
|IM - Illiger Macaw||Keet - Parakeet|
|LCA - Lilac Crowned Amazon||LSC - Lessor Sulphur Crested Cockatoo|
|LSC2 - Lesser Sulpher-Crested Too|
|MA - Mealy Amazon||M2 - Moluccan Cockatoo|
|MBC - Maroon Bellied Conure MGM||MGM - Miligold Macaw|
|MM - Military Macaw||MM2 - Major Mitchell (Leadbeater) Cockatoo|
|MRHA - Mexican Red Head Amazon||MSC - Medium Sulphur Crested Cockatoo|
|OWA - Orange Winged Amazon||PC - Painted Conure|
|RB2 - Rose Breasted Cockatoo||RLA - Red Lored Amazon|
|RM - Ruby Macaw||RSE - Red Sided Eclectus|
|RV2 - Red Vented Cockatoo||SBCC - Slender Billed Corella Cockatoo|
|SC2 - Sulpher-Crested Too|
|SIE - Soloman Island Eclectus||SM - Scarlet Macaw|
|T2 - Triton Cockatoo||T2 - Triton Cockatoo|
|TAG - Timneh African Grey||Tiel - Cockatiel|
|Too - Cockatoo||U2 - Umbrella Cockatoo|
|VE - Vosmaeri's Eclectus||WFA - White Fronted Amazon|
|WF - White Faced Cockatiel||YCM - Yellow Collared Macaw|
YNA - Yellow Naped Amazon
Introducing Your Parrot to
Written by Joanie Doss
This article first appeared in the November/December 1992 issue of Parrot World, the publication of the National Parrot Association.
Most birds are bundles of energy. They're a delight to watch as they attack their toys with gusto and perform daring acrobatics. Despite the fact that birds may appear to be expending a great deal of energy, they may not be giving their hearts and lungs the workout they need. Activity shouldn't be confused with beneficial exercise. As a concerned pet owner, have you ever considered providing your "ball of high octane energy" with a regular exercise program to help insure that your pet will achieve its optimum life span.
Birds in the wild fly many miles every day. They usually fly from their roosts to forage for food and return again in the evening to roost. They do a lot of climbing in their daily quest for food. While unclipped birds in a large aviary come closer to the natural movements of a wild bird, a clipped, caged bird does not. Birds used for breeding lead a somewhat more "aerobic" life unless they're kept in small cages. Breeders should be housed in cages that are roomy enough so that they can easily flap their wings comfortably. They may flap with such vigor and force that they produce noticeable noise with their wings. This is a territorial behavior called "drumming" and provides the heart and lungs with a good workout.
As a pet bird becomes older, it tends to put on weight. It acquires the savvy to get people to give it treats and tidbits of food in return for endearing bits of behavior. A cycle begins. The parrot starts to get heavier 90 it feels less like exercising, and because it becomes less active, it becomes heavier. Does this sound like someone we know?
It's hard not to give in to a pet bird's pleas for a treat. When any visitor walks into my bird room/workroom, my birds all have their own ways of getting people to give them something to eat. Pepper, my older Blue-fronted Amazon uses the direct approach as he demands, "Polly wants a cracker." Kodiak, my two year old Blue-front, prefers a more subtle appeal. He stands in the front corner of his cage in spread-eagle fashion, cocks his head, and convincingly as possible says, "I'm a good boy." Should anyone be a bit slow in responding with a treat, he impatiently adds, ''Come on, come on." If he is still ignored, he'll put his foot through the bars of his cage and grab you if he can. He's a young bird, so weight isn't a problem yet, but it soon might be. I finally decided to train them to stay in place and flap their wings on command. To do this, I place a bird on a dowel stick, give the command to fly, and then move the dowel from my right to my left. I return it again and repeat the whole procedure several times. The bird gets to flap his wings at least five times for each pass I make. I do this thirty times for each of the birds. I do ten passes, let the bird rest, do ten again and let the bird rest, then do a final ten passes.
Because I had older, fat birds, I was careful to start slowly with their exercise. At first, they only did five passes. Both Pepper and T.J. would breathe very heavily when they first began. Pepper loved doing this right from the start. He could hardly wait each morning for me to take him out for his flying exercise. T.J. disliked the exercise at first. When I would take him out of his cage, he would cock his head and try to get me to scratch under his chin an attempt to delay the start of his exercise period. At first, he barely flapped his wings. But after a month, he began to show an improvement in strength and stamina, and now he's really eager for his exercise. His wing movements are deep and full, and he becomes very excited when it's time to exercise. All of the birds have now become almost as eager to do their flying exercise as they are to eat.
Exercise has as many benefits for birds as it does for humans. Kodiak, who is a phobic bird, becomes easier to handle, and is better able to keep his fears under control after his morning exercise. He looks forward to his flying time and jiggles the latch of the door to his cage if he thinks I'm taking too long to get to him.
Pepper's wind has improved. I can hear his increased heart rate after ten passes. But it quickly returns to normal again just like the heart rate of a well conditioned human. I was surprised to find that he enjoyed this 90 much because he's a fat bird and is generally inactive in his cage or on his playpen. In the evenings, he prefers to sit with me rather than play with his toys on the play gym or T-stand.
Sidney, my three year old Nape, was a highly excitable biter. He was sold to me as a two year old because he was starting to become unmanageable. Sidney doesn't have a mean bone in his body, but he is a high strung, high energy guy. The flying exercise helps to keep a lid on his emotions and gives him an outlet for all that energy.
As stated before, T.J. didn't like this exercise at first. I progressed very slowly with him because he has an internal growth between his heart and lung, and I didn't want him to have any problems. In fact, I started him with only three passes and he probably flapped his wings about twice on each of them. Now he flaps his wings about five times on each of thirty passes. He's getting a glow to his feathers and he's starting to talk more again.
Maggie, my four year old Nape, was always in good shape. He adds his own specialty to this exercise. Some mornings when he feels extra good, he swings around the dowel so that he hangs upside down and flies that way for several passes. He had been getting lazy about his talking, but now I give him his exercise, then work on his speech while he's still excited from his activity. He's beginning to improve at speaking on command again.
I believe that this simple exercise has done a lot to improve the life of my birds. Not only does it seem to be having both physical and emotional benefits for them, but they enjoy it as well. Whoever said, "No pain, no gain!"
Training Your bird to Fly in Place There are two things your bird must learn how to do before you can have him fly in place on a dowel. He must be (1) stick trained, and (2) he must be able to flap his wings on command.
You must begin with a dowel or stick that's a little smaller than your bird's perch. He needs to be able to grasp the dowel firmly and feel secure while flapping his wings. For directions on the actual process of stick training please see Parrot World, May/June '92. Flapping Wings on Command
Place your bird on your arm or on a dowel. When it is secure, bring your arm or dowel down quickly. Your bird will raise its wings to keep its balance. When it does this, give it your command word and praise it even if it only raises its wings slightly. You may also want to reward your bird with a bite of its favorite food, or a scratch on the head if it enjoys that. Each time you lower your arm or dowel, say "Fly" or whatever will be your own command word. Remember to praise and reward your parrot each time it responds to your command. Once your bird has gotten the idea that he is to flap his wings when you command, it's time to start him on his exercise.
With your bird held almost shoulder high on the dowel, quickly move it in front of you from your right side to your left. If your bird appears frightened by this, move him slowly until he realizes he's not going to get hurt. If he shows no fear, but refuses to flap his wings, bring the stick down quickly and to your left simultaneously. If your bird still refuses to flap its wings, revert to using the downward movement only and praise him for every attempt he makes to lift his wings. This means he still hasn't learned what you mean when you say, "Fly." All birds learn at different rates, so don't rush him. This is not a race to see how fast you can get your bird to do something. Some birds will fly in place immediately when you just move the stick from your right to your left; others will always need to be brought down and to your left as explained above.
After you've moved him from your right to your left, return him slowly, bringing him back to the right. He will be backwards as you move, so don't go too quickly or you might scare him. After a while, some birds actually seem to really enjoy being returned quickly. But not all birds appreciate this, so gradually increase the speed of this motion while observing your bird's reaction carefully.
Not all birds will take to this exercise with enthusiasm. Some birds will nip more often as their exercise makes them more excited. Others will find it a good outlet for their excess energy and will nip less. What works for some birds may not for others. Even if I could physically show you how I do this, your timing might be off a few seconds from mine and your results could be different. Your relationship with your own bird would obviously be different than mine, so again we could have two different responses.
For the exercise to be of physical benefit to your bird, it should flap its wings at least five times every time you bring the dowel from your right to your left (one pass). He should be able to do about twenty to thirty of these passes a day when he's in good condition.
For the sake of your bird's health, you must remember to start slowly. No more than five passes a day, even if he's only flapping his wings two or three times on each pass. Gradually work up to more flaps and passes. I check my birds' breathing and heart rate after ten passes and wait for a return to normal before progressing further. If your bird is a non-biter, you can put your ear near his chest or even at his back and you'll hear his heartbeat after several passes. Please remember never to force your bird to exercise while it's ill or recovering from an illness.
Since this exercise will strengthen your bird's wings, you'll have to keep a close eye on its flight feathers as they grow because this could help him become a stronger flyer. It will also make his heart and lungs stronger. I feel satisfied that this exercise has improved the health of my birds. Try it for yourself and see what you find.
Alternatives for Older Birds or Birds with Bad Feet If the bird has sores on the bottom of its feet, or its pads are worn from old age, you may want to substitute your hand or a padded stick for the regular dowel. If the bird does not grasp the dowel firmly, he can cause excessive wear to the bottom of his feet.
If the bird is gentle, have him step onto your index (pointer) finger and the area between your finger and thumb. Clamp your thumb over his front toes. This will keep him on your hand and give him a feeling of security that he won't fall when he is flapping his wings.
If your bird is not gentle or tame enough for holding him on your hand, glue some acrylic pile fabric to a dowel to form a cushion for his feet. He will probably have to be introduced to the fabric dowel gradually because he will be hesitant to step onto an unfamiliar object.
NPA member, Joanie Doss, lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where she cares for seven Amazons, and watches for bears that stroll the streets and wandering moose who enjoy eating hanging baskets of fuschia on her front porch during the summer. She's a regular contributor to her local club's newsletter, and her articles have appeared often in major avicultural publications.
After reading so many request for information regarding talking, on the various mail lists I decided to write my own article on the subject. My experience deals with the two Congo African Greys in our flock and what I have learned and read on the different mail lists in the last 3 years. Both our Grey are prolific talkers and we lost count of how many words, phrases and sounds that they know a long time ago. Most of the questions related to talking are asked by the new parrot owner so this article is mainly directed towards them.
We all love parrots for many reasons but the ability to produce human speech and to mimic a variety of sounds is a big reason why parrots have fascinated mankind for so long. Amongst the many reasons for choosing a particular species of parrot as a companion, intelligence and talking ability are often placed very high on the priority list. Every parrot owner I have ever met is thrilled when the first word is spoken.
New parrot owners often ask, "What methods should I use to teach my parrot how to talk?"
Interaction is the key! Parrots are flock orientated and learn to interact with other members of the flock by making the same sounds and gestures as the other flock members. Use the same methods you would with a small child. When you walk into the room say "Hello Bird", when feeding "Do you want some birdie dinner?" when covering the cage at night "Night Night Bird". Huey, our 3 year old CAG said his first word "Tickle Tickle" at 14 months old. "Tickle", is a game we played when he was in his cage and I would tickle his feet or tummy through the bars (interaction). Even your gestures will be imitated in time. When our CAGS sing they often bounce up and down imitating the movement made when singing or dancing. Huey will say "Up down, left right, one two" from watching us exercising. He stands tall when saying "up", crouches for "down" and moves his head side to side for "left right".
In my opinion, tapes or recordings commonly advertised as methods to teach parrots to talk are of little or no value. Parrots learn through interaction and a desire to participate like other flock members. Voice tapes do not offer the stimulation needed. Music is a different story and by its very nature can be stimulating. Both or CAGs like to sing and dance to music, "Pop Goes The Weasel" is the present favorite.
When will my parrot start talking? He is 10 months old and does not talk yet, what should I do?
There is no set rule to determine when your parrot will say his first words and it varies a great deal. In general, African Greys often begin to talk some time after 12 months of age. As I mentioned earlier, Huey did not start until 14 months old, he has not sopped since.
In summation, teach your parrot like a young child, repeating words slowly and enunciating clearly and above all interact.
To review a book titled "Teaching Your Parrot to Talk" click here
I think shoulder sitting is wonderful for both bird and owner "after" they have become well aquatinted with each other and their surroundings. I do not encourage a first time "bird owner" to shoulder any parrot. I discourage first time CAG/TAG owners because young CAG/TAG's can be awkward, nippy, unsure, spooked easily etc. This is not only for the new owner but for the safety of the young inexperienced baby bird. Someone that has no experience with birds might react if bitten by swiping the bird off their shoulder and not only could the bird be injured physically but CAG/TAG's remember unpleasant episodes forever! I know even if I discourage them from making a shoulder bird that once they really get to know their bird and feel really comfortable with their bird it will eventually become a shoulder bird. But by then the new owner is hopefully aware of their bird's moods and abilities. And by then the CAG/TAG is more coordinated and comfortable in his/her new surroundings. And of course the new owner announces that their baby is now a shoulder bird and it makes me happy. In fact, my TAG's prefer heads rather than shoulders.
Shirley and the Greys, Texas
Buying & Selling Un-weaned Birds
This is another hotly-debated topic. An un-weaned bird has physical and emotional needs that are best met by an experienced bird breeder. Although intuition and sheer luck have helped some inexperienced new owners wean and rear a well-adjusted baby bird, others have not been so lucky. Hand feeding has certain risks attached. Inexperienced owners should not go at it alone. Conscientious breeders (the ones that care about the bird's future health and the customer's long-term satisfaction) do not sell un-weaned birds to inexperienced customers without also = offering extensive training/support. Although it is tempting to buy an un-weaned bird, in particular to get it away from a less-than-trustworthy vendor, one should remember that doing so is a vote of confidence for that seller's practices.
Here is more that she has to say on the subject:
DO NOT BUY an un-weaned bird unless you have adequate background on its care
Please read the information that follows and then make up your mind on the subject. When I first became aware that un-weaned birds could be purchased I thought hand-feeding one's own bird was a neat idea. As I researched the topic I came to realize the process is fraught with accidents waiting to happen. = Like the Romans said, "Caveat Emptor", buyer beware. Make your decisions based on facts, not on myths and marketing ploys.
Background information on hand-feeding
Parrots are hand-fed by humans (as opposed to being raised by the parents) because sometimes the parents reject the babies. In the pet trade, however, hand-feeding is done in order to make the baby bird become used to being handled by humans. Some parent-raised birds eventually become tame, but they often are skittish and less trusting than well-socialized, hand-fed babies. Often, breeders allow the parents to incubate the eggs and to feed the chicks for a few weeks, then the babies are removed from the nest and the breeder takes over all feeding and socialization. Some breeders artificially incubate all eggs produced by their breeding pairs. At least in some cases, this is done to maximize clutch size (as artificial incubation rules out accidental breakage of eggs by parents, for example). Apparently, hand-fed birds are less successful at breeding than are hand-raised birds, so take this into consideration if you are thinking of buying birds for breeding purposes.
First of all, let me give you a quick description of the early life of = a baby parrot. Eggs may be incubated by the parents, by surrogate parents (other species of parrot) or they may be artificially incubated. When the chick hatches, it is absolutely dependent on its parents (or human surrogate). The baby bird is not covered in feathers, nor is it capable of doing much (unlike the precocial chicks of ducks and chickens with which most people are familiar). The baby's eyes and sometimes ears may not be open (I mean, they literally will be sealed). The chick won't even = be capable of regulating its own body temperature. The baby is capable of requesting feedings, though, and the parents comply by regurgitating food into the chick's mouth. The breeder feeds the chick by using a manufactured (or home-made) formula, which is delivered to the chick in two general ways:
- by dribbling the food into the chick's mouth (using a spoon, cup or syringe). This process is time-consuming, but somewhat similar to what the parent birds would do during the natural feeding sequence.
- by pumping the food into the chick's crop (tummy) by using a syringe to which a tube is attached (tube goes down the chick's throat, food is delivered directly to the crop) . This process allows the feeding to proceed at a VERY fast rate; unless the breeder takes pains to compensate, the chicks will miss out on valuable interaction time with the feeder (some people go as far to propose that this de-personalized process is RESPONSIBLE for a lot = of behavioral problems later in life). Such lack of interaction could negate the main purpose of the hand-feeding process, which should aim at creating people-friendly, well-adjusted pets.
In the early stages, feedings may be necessary as often as every couple hours, around the clock. Throughout the hand-feeding stage, chicks need to be kept clean (they can get quite messy while feeding), and must be monitored regularly to verify they are comfortable and doing well. The brooders and equipment used in hand-feeding need to be sterilized. These are just a few of the reasons that explain why hand-fed birds are more expensive than parent-fed birds.
Regardless of the food-delivery method, the hand-feeding process is not simple: the formula must be prepared fresh before each feeding, and it must be heated up to a certain temperature, or the chick's willingness to eat it AND its ability to digest the food may be compromised. Extremely hygienic conditions should be kept = so as to avoid passing diseases to the chicks, or from one chick to the next. If the hand-feeder is not really adept, the food may go into the chick's lungs instead of into its digestive tract, and the chick may die by choking or from infections that arise from the improper delivery of food (called aspiration). If the hand-feeder doesn't know what behaviors are normal for chicks of a given age and species, he/she may fail to realize the chicks are not responding (meaning that the hand-feeder may not realize the chick is dehydrated, sick, too hot or too cold, losing weight or simply failing to thrive). If the food is too hot, the chick's crop may literally be seared, which can obviously cause lots of damage or death due to the trauma itself or to secondary infections. Basically, there ARE a lot of physical dangers to the chick when it is hand-fed by humans, and those dangers are maximized when the hand-feeder is inexperienced.
There are also psychological aspects to the hand-feeding process. The human must provide the chick with social interaction (such as would be provided by the parents and siblings) in order to = have the chick's emotional development progress normally. I am not aware of any research specifically describing the early emotional development in parrots. However, considering that they are highly intelligent, social animals, and that other such = species (e.g., dogs) do have critical periods in their early development upon which normal adult behaviors hinge, it is not far-fetched to suggest that parrots may be similar in this respect.
As time goes by, the chick becomes fully covered in feathers, its eyes and ears open up, and it begins to explore its surroundings. Eventually, its development progresses to the point when parents would be encouraging the chick to eat on its own. This is a transition period that can be difficult for the chick, and the process through which the chick becomes progressively more independent from its parents for sustenance is = called "weaning." A chick is considered to be weaned when it is capable of eating enough food on its own for at least 3 days in a row. The exact timing of this process varies with each individual, but is relatively constant within species. If the chick is not emotionally secure, it may revert to less mature behaviors and it may need supplemental feedings in order to maintain its weight (and the weaning process will have to be completed once again). This point of "nutritional independence" is not simply a physical marker, it's also a major psychological step in the bird's emotional development. While some birds seem to breeze right through = the weaning stage, others fight it and WHINE a lot, which can be a real trial for the hand-feeder.
Why buying unweaned chicks is a very bad idea in most cases
As you can see, the hand-feeding process is NOT simple and clear-cut, = it has physiological and psychological aspects that are often entwined. Many bird breeders and parrot behavior consultants feel that hand-feeding and the weaning process, as well as the socialization that takes place along with them, ARE CRITICAL IN PRODUCING A HEALTHY, EMOTIONALLY SECURE, WELL-SOCIALIZED bird. In so many words, they feel that a lot of behavioral problems seen in adult birds can be traced to screwed-up "chickhoods". In my opinion, only experienced individuals should take it upon themselves to hand-feed their pet bird, because the risks exist, and I believe becoming a new parrot owner is complicated enough without throwing in the responsibility of properly socializing and nurturing a baby bird. The new owner will have plenty of opportunity to interact and "bond" with the bird later on... it is during that time that the owner will train the bird to behave within reasonable limits.
While many people without previous experience have successfully completed the hand-feeding process, others have gone through very traumatic experiences that have resulted in emergency veterinary care for the chick, and some have lost their baby birds (and their monetary investment). The actions of vendors who sell unweaned chicks to inexperienced hand-feeders and then fail to monitor the chick's progress suggest they place more emphasis on profit than on the welfare of the bird. It likewise can be argued that customers who buy unweaned chicks are also financially minded and that they are accepting the risks along with the savings. The problem is that in far too many cases, vendors fail to educate the buyers on the risks of taking home an unweaned chick, which may leave us discussing the ethics (and = legality?) of false advertisement Some such vendors actively lie and say the chick is weaned when it isn't; others simply lie by = omission and don't accurately describe proper hand-feeding and weaning techniques. When I wrote the Bird Health FAQ and had it = reviewed by one of our bird vets, he commented that what he'd like to see was a FAQ on hand-feeding: obviously his practice treats a lot of unweaned chicks that are suffering at the hands of inexperienced owners. I have written this section to educate the buying public about these issues, so that they can make informed choices when choosing from whom to purchase a pet bird. = In particular, I want to address certain myths that unscrupulous breeders use to manipulate customers into purchasing unweaned birds.
Myths about hand-feeding abound. The most common one is that the new owner must hand-feed the bird or otherwise the bird won't adequately "bond" to the new owner. This is an utter lie, as has been proven again and again. Whatever bonds the chick forges with the parents (or hand-feeders) will CHANGE when the chick reaches independence. At that point, the young parrot will also make new alliances among flock members and eventually perhaps with a mate. Therefore, the bird literally has built-in instructions to make new relationships through its lifetime. It's up to the owner to help develop that relationship, it doesn't magically appear by virtue of hand-feeding the bird. Besides, this "unique bonding through hand-feeding" mumbo-jumbo doesn't prepare the new owner for the period that = inevitably follows weaning, when the chick starts being "testy" as it develops its own ideas of who should rule the roost!
The second reason many new owners opt to buy an un-weaned bird is that such birds often sell for less than their fully-weaned counterparts. The difference is usually a few hundred dollars, and the closer to weaning the bird is, the higher the price will be. However, buying an un-weaned bird isn't always a bargain because if the owner accidentally hurts the bird during the feeding process, the breeder will not assume responsibility for that accident = if the sale had been finalized (which happens when the new owner takes the bird home). In contrast, if the person had a deposit or had paid for a chick that died or got ill while being hand-fed by the breeder, the breeder would be obligated to replace the bird or reimburse the customer. Furthermore, if one compares the price of an un-weaned chick sold at a pet store vs. the price of a fully weaned chick of the same species as sold by a breeder, one often discovers the breeder's price is as good if not better than the pet store price! This is because many pet stores buy un-weaned chicks and re-sell them, with the profits going to them and the price hike (and sometimes the responsibility for hand-feeding) being passed on to the customer.
I am very opposed to people with no experience hand-feeding chicks just because it "sounds like fun." I believe anyone who is interested in hand-feeding should apprentice with an experienced breeder, who has years of experience and yes, mistakes, upon which to draw. Anyone who wants to buy an un-weaned chick should educate him/herself on the process by reading about it AND by practicing under supervision. Once they start feeding their own chick on their own, they need to follow the same procedures that a quality breeder would have followed (weigh the bird daily, sterilize utensils, prepare fresh food for each feeding) and should remain in close communication with the breeder and/or a qualified veterinarian, who are best equipped to evaluate the chick's progress. Hand-feeding is a complex process, it is worth doing well. Anyone who wants to end up with a healthy, happy bird (as opposed to hiking the risk of a traumatized bird and/or a sick bird and/or a huge vet bill to correct hand-feeding mistakes) is best advised to get as much support as possible. If, after reading all of this, you still feel like buying an un-weaned chick, PLEASE make sure you are dealing with a decent, bird-loving breeder that will continue to supervise the chick's progress, and also have the chick's progress monitored by an avian veterinarian. Anything else is plain uncivilized!Catherine Quinones
Ghana, Togo, Camaroon, Congo, and Angola Greys
When people are referring to Ghana, Togo, Camaroon, Congo, and Angola Greys, they are referring to the region in which the birds originally came. These are our street names and refer to *variations* not subspecies. There is the BIG difference. So I am sure the Atlas of Parrots, and I know, many other books refer to these birds, and mentions them by their "street" names. You know (I have been told by taxonomists) bird people are the only group that does this? All others go by scientific names.
Anyway, Ghana Greys come from the country of Ghana. Now here is the hard part. The Camaroon Greys people refer to here in the U.S. are large silver Greys. These Greys actually come from the old Congo, turned Zaire, and now the Congo again. Originally the Congo exported their birds, and they were the largest and lightest in color, the Congo grey. The Congo ceased exporting their birds. Of course by this time the term Congo grey was a permanent label for any red tail. During this time Africa was exporting birds out of Ghana, Togo, Camaroon and other countries. Trappers in Africa were trapping birds in Zaire (the old Congo) and smuggling them to Camaroon. Camaroon would then legally export them out of Africa. (legal but, not legal) So we would receive birds from Zaire (475-600+ grams) with papers saying the birds originated in Camaroon, of course we also would receive birds that actually did originate in Camaroon (425-500grams).
Only in America...........brokers decided to get more money for the larger birds and sold them as Camaroon Greys (would have to since illegal to have Zaire birds) and they sold the smaller darker birds as the common named Congo Greys (any red tail grey). It does get confusing, because we have Camaroon Greys that are really Congo in origin, and we have Congos that are really Camaroon in origin. (We even have Zaire Greys that were imported out of Togo) So much for the street names but after all is said and done, they are all one, and the same subspecies, the nominate Psittacus erithacus erithacus.
Contributed by Jean Patterson
Temperament, Behavior & Attitude of African Grey Parrots
The temperament, behavior and attitude of a Grey are, to a large part, determined by the hand-feeder/caregiver. Not that there aren't birds who don't fit the "norm". By and large, except perhaps for their intelligence and sensitivity, they are like other birds. This is not to say there isn't a wide range of personalities - just like with other wild animals - and humans, for that matter.
What I see in my babies are out-going assertive birds, interested in exploring, curious, attracted to the new food in the dish or the new toy.
It is true, Greys are one of the quietest birds - unless they are killing a toy. <g> Some do learn obnoxious sounds. Microwave beeps, run-down smoke alarm battery beeps, truck backup beeps, telephone rings, answering machine beeps, pager beeps, piercing wolf whistles, vocalizations from other birds, etc. The key is to avoid exposing them to these undesirable sounds. Not always easy. <g>
When baby birds are exposed to change, variety, color, movement and toys from the early weeks of life, they come to view these things as normal and nothing to be afraid of or concerned about. The de-sensitization of Grey babies - just like for the babies of other species - begins at the beginning.
The other very important element is confidence and trust in the hand-feeder/caregiver. They must never be exposed to aggression or anger or impatience nor should any game or interaction have an element of teasing. They learn to trust humans from the earliest weeks of life if they are consistently treated with love, respect, gentleness and compassion.
Dominating or attempting to dominate a Grey is a losing proposition - for the bird and for the owner. Unwanted behavior is best handled by avoidance. For example, if a baby digs, then act before he begins. Before initiating play or petting, inquire to see if he wants interaction. He should have the right to say "no" or decline. Greys need empowerment more than the other species I'm familiar with. I assume their intelligence tells them that autonomy means they are respected. It is much easier for a Grey (IMO) to love and trust a human who shows respect for a Grey's dignity and person, allows him to be a bird and encourages him to develop a sense of self.
Most of what you read is out-dated information. It is repeated and repeated by author after author until it seems to be fact by virtue of the repetition. Greys are no more shy that other birds. Greys are no more disturbed by change than other birds. Much depends on early socialization (the same as with other species) and the way that a Grey is taught - by example or by design - to live with humans. The new owner, of course, must continue the deliberate plan of continuing to expose the Grey to change and variety.
Do Birds See Colour ?
They have more cones (wavelength- i.e. color-sensitive receptors) in their retinas than rods. In fact, whereas we have 3 different cone types that make us sensitive to the spectrum of colors we see, there is evidence that at least some species of birds have a fourth cone type that appears responsive to wavelengths out around ultraviolet. We don't have that, so we don't see ultraviolet light. Some people think that feathers reflect ultraviolet light in such a way that parrots can tell, for example, males from females where we cannot. It could be that females' feathers have a whole different ultraviolet reflectance than males' feathers (within a given species) so the birds have no trouble telling boy from girl in species where we can't see a clear difference.
Last updated 08 March 2006